White Sox

Danks ready to take next step

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Danks ready to take next step

Three weeks into a program that has him throwing 50 pitches (fastballs and changeups) off a mound every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, White Sox left-hander John Danks is ready for the next step in his rehab.

"Next week, I start throwing breaking balls, and we'll go from there," said Danks at SoxFest on Saturday, over five months removed from surgery to remove a capsular tear in his left shoulder.

Taking the step to throwing breaking pitches affirms that Danks has remained on schedule throughout the initial tests of how his arm would respond to throwing from the mound again, after he was restricted to playing catch for the first two months of his rehab.

"I haven't had any setbacks. This is my first rehab, so I don't really know where I'm supposed to be but Herm (Schneider) and the doctors--saw them a couple days ago--are very happy with where I'm at."

Where Danks is at is a stage where he is still exercising a bit of caution

"I'm not raring back and throwing it one hundred percent, but there's a little bit on it. I'm not just lobbing it in. I'm trying to push it as much as I can right now safely. I could throw it harder if I wanted to, but it probably wouldn't be in my best interest."

Robin Ventura recently announced intentions to hold Danks, as well as Chris Sale, out of the early games of what will be an extended Spring Training due to the World Baseball Classic, but the announcement didn't faze Danks, or alter his goals.

"I kind of knew that they would take it easy with me," said Danks, "I understand their concern and their caution with me, but at the same time I'm going to work and try to be ready to go."

With approval from Schneider and pitching coach Don Cooper that he's hit all the necessary markers in rehab, the target for Danks remains to be ready, and in the rotation for the start of the season.

"Health-wise, I should be ready by then," said Danks, "I'm going to be disappointed if I'm not ready by then. I feel like I'll be ready before then, but at the end of the day it's Robin Ventura, Rick Hahn, and Kenny Williams's call."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Michael Kopech prepares for The Show

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Michael Kopech prepares for The Show

Pete McMurray, David Haugh and Ben Finfer join David Kaplan on the panel and discuss the long-awaited arrival of Michael Kopech for the White Sox, Yu Darvish's short rehab start and Mitch Trubisky's second preseason game.

Plus, they discuss new NFL rules and when Eloy Jimenez could get his call up.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Chris Getz on Michael Kopech: 'He’s got no interest in being second best'

Chris Getz on Michael Kopech: 'He’s got no interest in being second best'

With his MLB debut a day away, the Michael Kopech hype train is rolling full steam ahead.

Chris Getz, the White Sox farm director, did nothing to really slow that train down. Getz was interviewed during the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast and it was all about the pitching prospect and his upcoming debut.

“His stuff is unique,” Getz said. “It’s front-line repertoire, there’s no question. But he’s got such a competitive mindset. He’s got no interest in being second best. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great person. He’s everything you ask for in a guy to be on a team to compete for championships.”

Getz said Kopech has become more confident with his curveball in his last six or seven starts. The “six or seven starts” timeframe is something both general manager Rick Hahn and Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty said verbatim in other interviews on Monday. Apparently they saw what they wanted to in terms of Kopech’s development.

Kopech had a 1.84 ERA with 59 strikeouts and four walks in 44 innings in his last seven starts with the Knights. He also didn’t walk any batters in his last three starts over 20 innings.

“He’s got a lot of momentum going right now,” Getz said. “He’s in a very good position for success. He’s right where you want a player to be when we graduate them to the major leagues.”

McCatty, when talking about Kopech on ESPN 1000 with Fred Huebner, said Kopech’s fastball, slider and curveball are all plus pitches.

McCatty also has some experience with big time prospects coming up to the majors. He was the Nationals pitching coach when Stephen Strasburg made his major league debut in 2010. He had some advice for Kopech for his White Sox debut.

“I told him make sure you’re not throwing 102 in the first inning,” McCatty said with a laugh. “He’s gonna be exciting. He’s a specially talented kid. There’s no question about it.”

In Getz’s in-game interview with Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, Benetti asked about Kopech’s upside. Getz didn’t temper expectations in his response.

“To be a front end guy,” Getz said. “He’s got all the ingredients that all the best pitchers have. Michael, he’s going to be himself. He’s got a great personality. He’s got great stuff on the mound. He’s just going to be a guy that’s got a chance to be in the major leagues for a long time at the front end of a major league staff. In terms of throwing comparisons out there, there’s no need to do that. He’s going to be himself and he’s going to be a good one.”